Have you ever had one of those weekends where you feel like a very different person by Sunday night? On Friday I was the mother of a two year old and by Sunday she was almost three.
As I mentioned yesterday, Matt had to go out of town for the weekend at the last minute. Since we don't have any family around it was just me and the girls for most of it. It’s often just the three of us, though rarely am I a single parent from the moment Alyce wakes up before six until long after bedtime. I was both looking forward to the time spent at home with them on a lovely fall weekend and dreading those inevitable moments during the day when my patience would wear thin. Fortunately, at five months, Shira is still easy-peasy (that is, until she started projectile vomiting while the three of us are out for dinner. That was a good time). The only Shira-related dilemma that comes up for me sometimes is breastfeeding with Alyce around. Shira is reaching that point in our nursing relationship when the conditions must be JUST SO in order for nursing success. We must be on the bed, snuggling, and I must not be reading (a new development I'm not thrilled about). There must not be any other human or cat around to distract her, and never, not ever Alyce. How could she possibly be expected to nurse when the coolest, most fantastic big sister is right there?
On the other hand, Alyce is, shall we say, more energetic? There is a lot of running and skipping, insistence on doing everything by herself, and then of course, the ongoing potty training. She’s two, after all.
Not so fast. Alyce has always been a chatty kid, so it isn’t a spike in vocabulary that made her seem older to me this weekend, as is often the case. It’s the way she is speaking that made the little hairs stand up on my arms, and making it hard to deny that her third birthday is just around the corner. All of a sudden she’s become thoughtful, deliberate and careful (sort of). She has become very aware of other people’s feelings, and while she has always been the nurturing sort with her various dollies and monsters, now she’s looking after us too. I’ve really noticed her looking after Shira when she’s upset, or telling me that’s is ok if I’m having a bad day ("It's o.k. Mama, you can just go to bed and have nap!" If only it were so easy some days).
I'm also seeing it in the way she's taking on new tasks so carefully now. It's not just about keeping her distracted while I'm trying to get something done around the house. Now I have an assistant who watches for a few minutes and then jumps in, directing traffic and bossing me around. You see, she's now a professional laundry folder, leaf cleaner-upper, and baby whisperer. I could see a new depth of pride in her accomplishments as she helped me this weekend.
But I enjoyed my almost-three year old most when she quietly asked me if she could dress up as a fairy princess for trick-or-treating. She was all set to be another scary spider, but I had noticed all week that she was lingering a bit longer on princess stories and accessories. All of a sudden she wasn't this tiny human I could dress up--she was a tiny person who understood what it means to make-believe and what she really wanted was to spend the day as a fairy princess.
So a princess she was.